We all want to be more effective and productive at work. Here are some research findings that point out a few things that can hurt as well as help our effectiveness and efficiency at work.
1. Open plan offices are bad
It is surprising that open plan offices are so popular, given that they actually hinder performance and productivity. One study, for example, encompassing more than 40,000 people, showed that in open plan offices, employee well being dropped by more than 30 percent, and productivity declined by 15 percent.
Other research showed that open offices drive up stress, conflict, blood pressure and turnover.
People in open offices complain about the noise and the smaller work areas. People with their own offices reported much greater work satisfaction.
So, while a company may be saving money with open offices by using less real estate, the long-term costs outweigh the benefits.
2. Not getting enough sleep is the same as being intoxicated.
That may sound a little extreme, but the research backs it up. Being sleep deprived diminishes your cognitive performance in the same way as having too much alcohol. In fact, getting only four to five hours of sleep for an entire week puts you into the same mental state as having a blood alcohol level of .1 percent.
3. Multitasking hurts performance
There has been a lot written about this lately. Multitasking has attracted a lot of attention because so many people have been doing it under the mistaken impression that they are being more productive. Research has shown that multitasking actually increases the number of mistakes that we make, both mentally and physically.
Moreover, it seems that those who multitask the most are the worst at doing it. A possible reason for this is that people who multitask often actually do it because they are not very good at blocking out distractions, and so constantly move from one thing to another.
4. Technology is not always good
There is no question that advances in technology have aided productivity. But we have reached a point where there may be diminishing returns. In fact, in one survey, almost three-fourths of those responding did not feel technology increased their productivity. It actually led to more stress because it was difficult to get away from their work, negatively affecting their work-life balance.
5. Alcohol, caffeine and exercise can be beneficial when used responsibly.
Research has shown that a moderate amount of alcohol can actually help to increase creativity. It calms your mind, allowing you to block out distractions. Caffeine, on the other hand, works well in giving you the energy and drive you need to complete more routine tasks.
Finally, studies have shown that exercise can increase productivity by almost 25 percent, as well as delay aging of the brain.
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